Archive | December, 2008

Slow page loads — Our engineers are responding

31 Dec

12/31/08, 7pm PST: Some wikis are experiencing slow page loads and 500 errors when wiki pages attempt to load. Our engineers are aware of the problem and working on it.

There is no data loss and we estimate a relatively quick repair of the problem. We apologize for the inconvenience and wish you a Happy New Year’s! We’ll keep you updated here.

7:03pm: Our engineers have put a fix in place to repair most of the problems. We’re continuing to monitor page loads, but anticipate that most operations work smoothly again. Have a happy holiday!

New Feature: Now readers can comment on wiki pages

19 Dec

This week we’re excited to release one of our most requested features – Reader Commenting. Before,wiki users with ‘Reader’ access were only allowed to view your wiki.

Now, you can enable Readers to leave comments.

Why reader comments are useful

The ability for readers to leave comments is great if you like to get input from everyone in your organization, but you don’t want to give them full access to edit other pages on your wiki.

Reader comments are also useful for classrooms. Teachers can post questions on a page and have students answer them without having the ability to edit the questions.

How we keep your wiki safe with Reader commenting

Note: To keep your wiki safe, only users who have been invited as readers are enabled to comment. Visitors to public wikis won’t be able to leave comments unless they’re added to the wiki as readers

If you already have a wiki, you’ll need to enable this feature by doing this: Go to Settings —> Wiki Security —> Uncheck the ‘Disable reader commenting’ box.

New wikis will have Reader Commenting enabled by default.

How are you going to use reader commenting? Tell us in the comments!

New feature: Extend your wiki with embeddable HTML / JavaScript

18 Dec

You can already easily insert YouTube videos and Google Gadgets into your wiki using the Plugin menu (click Edit >> Insert plugin).

Now, we’ve made it easier to extend your wiki by inserting HTML and JavaScript into your wiki.

Use HTML/JavaScript to add outside widgets to your wiki

Custom HTML/JavaScript allows you (or your admins) to add interactive elements — also known as widgets — to your wiki pages.


  • Forms you create from Wufoo
  • Slideshows from Flickr
  • Any other widget with embeddable code!

Included: Security options for administrators

Widgets can sometimes result in unexpected behavior, so we’ve included built-in security for this feature (learn more about PBwiki security).

If “Allow JavaScript and other potentially unsafe code” is checked, only wiki admins will be able to edit the plugin in the future.

When other wiki users edit the plugin, they will not see the checkbox. If potentially unsafe code is detected, a warning will be shown. Potentially unsafe code, such as JavaScript, is automatically removed from the plugin to help keep your wiki safe.

To use the HTML/JavaScript plugin

1. Go into edit mode on your wiki by clicking the “Edit” tab.
2. Click the “Insert Plugin” button
3. Choose “PBwiki Magic”
4. And then choose “HTML/JavaScript”
5. Type in your code
6. If you’re a wiki administrator and want to include JavaScript (“script”) or CSS (“style”), check “Allow JavaScript and other potentially unsafe code”
7. Click “Preview,” then “OK,” and now “Save” your wiki page.

And if you have any questions, please check out the PBwiki Manual on Custom HTML / Javascript.

Tip of the week: Restrict access to your documents

18 Dec

Since we released the new document management features we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of files that people upload to their wiki.

Now people want to know how to set custom security on these files – specifically how to share a document with just a few users but not everyone on the wiki.

Here is a question straight from the support queue:

“It seems that everyone on my wiki can click on the files button and see all the files. Is there a way to prevent this? I have files that I do not want other departments to see.”

YES! On premium wikis, administrators can create custom security settings for their documents and files.

To restrict access to files and documents on your wiki:

  1. First create a folder and set custom security on that folder.
  2. Next upload your files into that folder.
Restrict Access from PBwikiWebinars on Vimeo.

What do you use for your playbook?

15 Dec
Image from

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I spent most of Sunday afternoon at home watching various football games. While I’m a fan of all sports, I’m always amazed at the execution and synchronization of a typical football play. Each down, the 11 players move in perfect harmony in order to reach their goal. The slightest misstep can be the difference between victory and defeat.

What is true on the football field is often true in real life: if a team isn’t on the same page, the team is likely to fail. Football players spend hours reading a playbook and practicing over and over again in order to attain this togetherness. In the business world, we don’t have time to practice for hours which makes having a good playbook essential. If your team doesn’t have a playbook, why not build one today using a wiki?

We demand a recount! (Open Web Awards)

11 Dec

Photo courtesy of Jonathunder.

It has come to our attention that in Mashable’s Open Web Awards, PBwiki came in as the runner-up to Wikipedia in the “Wiki” category.

Clearly, this is a travishamockery of justice. Sure, Wikipedia is the largest repository of human knowledge, but you won’t find caricatures of all the Wikipedians on their web site.

Please write your local politicians and demand justice. We’re coming for you, Jimmy Wales!

(In all seriousness, thank you to all the bloggers who voted for us. It’s an honor. And hey, maybe next year….)

How do you describe your wiki to others?

5 Dec

I’m curious how you invite others to your wiki. We’ve heard from users who describe their wiki in all different kinds of ways.

What do you say to get others to successfully join your wiki?

Is it:

“Hey Michelle, you should join my wiki. You can edit pages with me on it…”


“John, you should try my PBwiki. We can keep our files in one place….”


“We should just use my PBwiki instead of sending all these emails back and forth.”

You get the idea…what words do you use to describe your wiki so others will join? Leave us a comment with your best invitation — and please include your profession!

Asking the Right Questions

4 Dec

Asking the right questions is a key component of being a successful support guru at PBwiki. The PBwiki Support Team answers questions from users with all sorts of experiences with wikis – from first time users to top-ten editors on Wikipedia. It’s imperative that no matter what the skill-level of a user, the support guru can quickly assess their situation and find resolution for them. But how does a support team know how to dig into a user’s question? Let’s take a look at how librarians, masters of question-answering, train to answer their patrons.

When I was in grad school working on my library science degree, my classmates and I spent one snowy night role-playing online reference. I learned about PBwiki from my grad school professor, and on this night we were hosting class online, using the Yaplet plugin on our classroom wiki to hold a pratice online reference session. The main component of hosting reference questions in a library setting (both physical and virtual) is the reference interview. A reference interview is a technique librarians use with library patrons to discover their needs and find resolutions to those needs.

The typical reference interview consists of 5 parts:

  1. Welcoming
  2. Gathering information with open questions
  3. Confirming the exact question
  4. Giving the answer
  5. Following up

“Thanks for contacting Happy Valley Public Library Reference! How can I help you?” I typed. My colleague Jessi responded, “What is the state muffin?” I quickly opened another window, and Googled (yes, librarians do use Google) “State Muffin Minnesota”. I typed back, “The state muffin of Minnesota is blueberry.” After a short pause with no response from the user, my professor prompted me to ask the follow up question – “Does this completely answer your question?” And surprisingly, it didn’t. I had made a basic assumption that the question she was asking related to Minnesota – where we were currently living. By not confirming the exact question, I delayed the delivery of the answer. I was able to go back and forth with her a bit more to get to the true root of her question and get her answer.

The same concept applies to customer support. At PBwiki, we welcome all users to email support and gather their information through an open email form. For example, we often hear from a user that they want to delete their wiki. If we take the time to engage with the customer and confirm why they want to delete, it is usually something we can do to help them and keep them on as PBwiki users. By addressing the frustration, deletion is no longer an option and they are ready to get back to their wiki. A key part of the support interaction at PBwiki is the follow up. If we don’t hear back from you that our solution is what you were looking for, we’ll check in on you in a few days. We also make it very easy for you to reconnect with the same Support Guru, the person who is familiar with your case, so that you can develop relationships with individual members of our team.

The most recent addition to the support team is Alison. Alison is a librarian in New York and I felt strongly pulled to hire Alison after reading her application questionnaire. In this questionnaire, I saw that Alison applied her skills from the library field – being very clear about restating the question, give a concise answer, and then making sure to leave room for follow up. While Alison most likely won’t be answering questions about the state muffin of Minnesota, she can apply her reference interview skills towards understanding and answering questions about how to reset a wiki password or how to insert a calendar on a wiki. Making sure the user is welcomed, their question is understood, and they have room to ask more questions are the skills I value in my support team members, and I’m sure are skills valued by the users contacting support.